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A Ground-Breaking Opportunity: Mining Critical Minerals in America

March 15, 2018 in Economics

By Ned Mamula, Stephen Moore

Ned Mamula and Stephen Moore

Energy, minerals, and metals are indispensable for our American
standard of living. But unlike the case with energy, the U.S. is
chronically import-reliant on other nations for the minerals and
metals that are needed for our country’s economy,
infrastructure, and military. Mineral imports have steadily
increased for at least the past two decades because draconian
permitting requirements and environmental opposition have made it
hard to supply those needs from sources within the U.S. Now there
is not enough domestic mining to meet robust manufacturing
demand.

However, the real problem is that more and more mineral imports
are coming from China, Russia, and third-world dictatorships. The
nation’s vulnerability to a mineral embargo has become
sufficiently serious that President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) on December 20, 2017, to
ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals for the
nation.

For the first time, a presidential EO puts forth an official
government definition of what a “critical mineral” is,
along with its role in the economy: “a non-fuel mineral
material essential to the economic and national security of the
U.S.; the supply chain of which is vulnerable to disruption; and
that serves an essential function in the manufacturing of a
product, the absence of which would have significant consequences
for our economy or our national security.”

This new definition enables federal agencies and others to focus
on how serious the issue of critical mineral imports has become
from an economic, geological, technological, and manufacturing
standpoint.

Domestic mining could
supply most of our mineral needs, if only environmentalists would
allow it.

In response to the president’s EO, the U.S. Geological
Survey (USGS) last week published a list of 35 “critical minerals” that
are important for American economic health and military readiness.
The draft list includes aluminum, platinum, rare-earth elements,
tin, titanium, and over two dozen other critical minerals and
metals. These are the minerals that will be required to sustain our
standard of living and begin rebuilding the American
infrastructure, as proposed by the president.

According to the USGS, as of 2017, the U.S. is importing an
alarming 64 minerals and metals in quantities above 25
percent. Of those 64, approximately 35 are imported in various
quantities from China, and 10 from Russia. Put another way, we are
importing approximately two-thirds of these 64 key minerals from
adversaries.

Worse, the U.S. is 100 percent dependent on imports for 21
minerals and metals now listed as “critical minerals”
by the USGS, with more than half of those imported from China. If
the 15 rare earths were counted as individual metals, the number of
minerals and metals imported at …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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